1. The Protagonist


Artist: John Frusciante
Title: Before The Beginning

The Empyrean is yet John Frusciante’s most creative and most elaborate piece of work yet. This collection of songs, if you may, takes place inside the thoughts of the guitar hero. The first song, titled ‘Before The Beginning’ is an instrumental track that develops slowly and builds one’s anticipation and grabs listeners by their souls and creates a suspenseful ride in space. You can hear a lot of overdubbing and multiple guitars fading in and out from all speakers, creating an intense collaboration between the different frequencies that travel through your speakers. Most of the recording and mixing process was in Frusciante’s hands and under his direction with the help of, recording engineer, Ryan Hewitt. He also uses analog tape to be able to slow down or speed up the tape to create different sounds with his guitar. This album is definately a collection of songs of which one may have never heard. You gotta hear the whole album instead of just a song. Let the music guide your mind to an experience that is beautiful and psychedelic.


2. In Your Brain


Artist: Monophonics
Title: Bang Bang

‘Bang Bang’ is their take on the famous original from Sonny & Cher. In their rendition of ‘Bang Bang’, the trumpet, sax and bass play an integral part in sculpting the funkscape, which creates that clear distinction from the original. The dramatic pauses and bursts of funk create tight pockets of tension, which the vocalist is more than happy to take advantage of. Finnigan’s big vocals are nothing short of impressive in this track, colouring the funkscape with a shade of unrestrained soul. Easily one of their best tracks.


3. Rocksteady


Artist: Paul Simon
Title: Mother And Child Reunion

Paul Simon’s self-titled album was released in 1972, which has all kinds of music including jazz, soul, latin and as a personal favourite, the reggae number ‘Mother and Child Reunion’ sounded exactly like Studio One’s productions. It was one of the first U.S. mainstream recordings to use Jamaican reggae. The lyrics mention everything from drugs to congressmen, to peace, to pollution. But despite these ‘heavy’ subjects, Simon’s album is fun. Just about every song has a line or two that brings a smile to your face. Meanwhile he is saying something important and easy to identify with.


4. Fresh As Daisy


Artist: 79.5
Title: Terrorize My Heart

Pleasing sounds and sassy hook induced soulfulness from this new band straight out of New York and In an age of mass-produced plastic pop music, with the influence of soul, blues, Jazz and funk are too often lost in the shuffle. A groovy stop start beat, choice rhodes, a wah guitar and some jazz flute softened by some honeyed girl vocals could prove just the antidote to that freezing winter ahead. It’s a peachy gem and is as fresh as a daisy!


5. Daptone All-Star


Artist: The Olympians
Title: Mars

A lot of The Olympians will sound familiar to Daptone devotees, but band leader Toby Pazner sneaks some ambitious switch-ups into a form frequently tied to grooves, and the addition of a thinly scattered string section lends some space and delicacy to the sound. Sticking to its usual sound chugging wah-wah guitar, a persistently syncopated horn section, flawless percussion. The reverse delay guitar on ‘Mars’ achieves a measured psychedelic effect in contrast to the grace of the harp runs. A characteristically lush track that leans on bowing sideline strings, the song reveals a bumbling, then barking, then breathy, then rambling trumpet. Still, like good session musicians, the Olympians never sound out of pocket.